The Tigers achieved their fourth World Series championship in 1984 against the San Diego Padres. The “Roar of ’84” had a stellar group of players that are still held dearly in Detroit today. The 1984 World Championship remains the most recent championship for the Tigers, having failed to win it again in 31 years and counting.
C: Lance Parrish–Parrish spent the first ten seasons in an illustrious career with the Tigers. He was an 8x All-Star, 3x Gold Glover, and 6x Silver Slugger throughout his career. He hit clean-up for the Tigers in 1984 and hit 33 bombs and drove nearly 100 runs in. He also had the privilege of catching Jack Morris’s no-hitter in April of 1984. He spent the next ten seasons playing for six different ball clubs. He currently manages the Tigers’ AA affiliate, the Erie Seawolves.
1B: Dave Bergman–Spending nine seasons in Motown, Bergman was the starting first baseman for the latter half of the decade, including the 1984 championship. In 1989, he ruined a Nolan Ryan no-hitter with one out in the ninth inning of the game. He spent time with the Tigers until 1912, which at that point he was backing up Cecil Fielder at first base, and elected to retire.
2B: Lou Whitaker–One-half of the greatest double-play combo in baseball history, “Sweet Lou” spent his entire 19-year career with the Tigers. In 1978, he broke into the major leagues in elite fashion and won the AL Rookie of the Year award. He proceeded to collect 5 All-Star selections, 3 Gold Gloves, and 4 Silver Sluggers. He maintains among the Tigers’ all-time leaders in several categories to this day.
3B: Tom Brookens–Brookens spent the first 10 of 12 seasons in his career with the Tigers, before spending brief stints with the Yankees and Indians. Nicknamed the “Pennsylvania Poker” by legendary announcer Ernie Harwell, Brookens was always an above-average defensive player at the hot corner. After retiring, Brookens also spent five seasons as a first-base/third-base coach for the Tigers under the management of Jim Leyland.
SS: Alan Trammell–The other half of double-play combo, Tram was a 6x All-Star, 4x Gold Glover, and 3x Silver Slugger during his 20-year career, all of which was spent in Detroit. In 1985, Trammell became one of now-three Detroit players to hit over 20 home runs and swipe 20 bases in a single season (the others being Kirk Gibson and later Curtis Granderson). His best season came in 1987 when he hit clean-up, after being requested by manager Sparky Anderson to do so. After retiring, the Tigers gave him his first managing gig in 2003, but led the Tigers to their worst season in its entire history. He currently serves as a special assistant to the Tigers GM.
LF: Larry Herndon–Herndon spent the final seven seasons of his career in Detroit. He hit a game-winning two-out two-run homer in Game 1 of the World Series in 1984. His home run three years later on the final day of the 1987 season clinched the Tigers the AL East division crown.
CF: Chet Lemon–A 3x All-Star, Lemon had his best season in 1984 and was a big reason the Tigers won the World Series. After helping the Tigers to a 35-5 start, Lemon hit hit .287 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs. He was also elected as the starting center fielder in the 1984 All-Star Game.
RF: Kirk Gibson–Gibson spent 12 of his 16-year career in Detroit. He’s a 2x World Series champion (’84 with the Tigers, and ’88 with the Dodgers), ALCS MVP in 1984, and Silver Slugger winner in 1988 with the Dodgers. Also in his career 1988 season, he won the NL MVP. In 1985, Gibson fell a single homer shy of becoming the Tigers’ first 30 HR-30 SB member. After retiring, Gibson spent five years as the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and won the Manager of the Year award in 2011. After being fired, Gibson returned to the Tigers to serve as the Tigers’ current color commentator.
DH: Darrell Evans–A 2x All-Star, Evans spent five seasons in the Motor City. In 1985 with the Tigers, Evans hit 40 home runs and led the AL in dingers at age 38, becoming the oldest player to ever lead the league in home runs. He hit his 400 HRs in 1988, and hit over 100 with three separate teams (Braves, Giants, Tigers).
SP 1: Jack Morris–Morris, who spent the first fourteen seasons of his career in Detroit, had an illustrious career. His accolades include 4 World Series rings (’84 in Detroit, ’91 in Minnesota, ’92-’93 in Toronto), 5 All-Star selections, 1991 World Series MVP, 2x MLB wins leader, 1983 AL strikeout leader, and pitched a no-hitter in 1984 with the Tigers. After retiring, Morris fell about 8% shy of the 75% threshold in 2013 in order to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Tigers fans are still hoping the Veterans Committee will induct him come 2017. He is currently a commentator for both the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers.
SP 2: Dan Petry–A 1985 All-Star, Petry spent eleven seasons in Detroit in two stints. Arguably, his best year came in 1984 when he placed fifth in the Cy Young voting (behind teammate Hernandez who won it) as he pitched to a 18-8 record.
RP 1: Willie Hernandez–A 3x All-Star, Hernandez had his best season of his career in 1984 with the Tigers as he not only won the Cy Young award as a reliever, but also the AL MVP. He had a sub-2.00 ERA and saved 32 games. That was his peak of his career, but he still gave the Tigers a few more solid seasons, but under his birth name as Guillermo Hernandez.
RP 2: Aurelio López–A 1983 All-Star, Lopez, or “Señor Smoke” was a lights-out reliever for the Tigers in the six seasons he spent in Detroit. He pitched to a 10-1 record as the Tigers’ set-up man to Willie Hernandez in 1984. He was later inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.
So, this caps the entire 20th century in Detroit Tigers history. We’ll be moving on to the 21st century before closing the book on the All-Decade Series for the Detroit Tigers shortly. But, what do you think of the 1980s? This Tigers team had some star players in Lou, Gibson, Trammell, Morris, and Hernandez. Do you agree that Lou and Alan is the greatest double-play combo ever? If not, who was better?